I want to believe…? Actually, it’s more like I wanted to believe we would get answers to last season’s massive cliffhanger, but instead, we got bupkis.
Let’s back it up for a second.
Previously on the X-Files, FBI Agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) reunited to investigate the strange and unexplained. At the end of season 10, the Spartan Virus, a global pandemic, was unleashed to erase all of mankind except for a chosen few. We saw Scully scrambling to find a cure to save everyone, especially Mulder, only to find herself spotlighted by the beam of an alien spaceship.
Cut to the present, and season 11 opens on a very different note. We find out that the events of season 10 were just a dream and that instead of Mulder being on the brink of death, it’s Scully who’s suffering through seizures and visions brought on by her hidden son, William. These may or may not be visions of the future, but we won’t find out until the end of the season.
Whatever the case may be, Mulder’s fine but Scully ends up in the hospital a couple of times – the first after her seizure and the second after getting into a car accident. Mulder, on the other hand, parallels his journey to South Carolina in order to find the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis), and ends up meeting a pair of members from the Syndicate (played by AC Peterson and Barbara Hershey). They reveal CSM’s plan to annihilate humankind with the alluded to Spartan Virus.
Meanwhile, Assistant Director Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) is accosted by Agent Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish) and CSM, and given information regarding William’s heritage. He’s not Mulder’s son, as we’ve been led to believe, but CSM’s.
So, what do I think?
Oh, lord, where do I even begin?
First off, the whole “it was a dream” plot was a cop out on Chris Carter’s part. Instead of continuing where we ended of last season, he’s attempting to retcon what happened and rewrite the script. I honestly don’t know how that’s supposed to make it interesting. It’s an overdone trope, and in this instance, it came off as hastily done. I really would have liked to have seen how last season’s cliffhanger would have played out. Did Scully’s cure work? Would Mulder have survived? Would it have caused CSM’s plot to crumble? So many unanswered questions that probably won’t get answered, but it is what it is.
The second thing that really bothered me was all the inner monologues going on. Instead of “show don’t tell”, this episode felt more like “tell, tell, tell”. We had CSM’s monologue at the beginning of the episode explaining how his plan came to be. Then we had Mulder’s inner monologue as he drove. And drove. And drove some more. If it hadn’t been for my absolute and utter confusion throughout the episode, I probably would have hated it more. Yes, there were some important revelations made by both men, but these were things that could have been shown better with flashbacks or dialogue between characters. Instead, we got a whole lot of blab and not a lot of action.
Finally, the most disturbing realization I had about this episode was the agency. And when I say the agency, I don’t mean the FBI, I mean a person’s autonomy, like that which was taken away from Scully on several occasions throughout The X-Files run on TV. She was abducted multiple times by both the government and serial killers, had her eggs harvested against her will, and then last season we found out her DNA had been spliced with alien DNA.
The icing on this awful cake has to be finding out what happened between Scully and Cigarette Smoking Man during their ill-fated road trip in the Season 7 episode “En Ami”. I would have been content never to have found out, but unfortunately, there’s no way around it now: Scully was violated by CSM to the point at which I might as well call it “rape.”
I think by now it’s obvious that my thoughts on this episode have been rather harsh. And while that’s true to some degree, I also found some parts of the episode enjoyable. Some points of interest included:
- The reveal that there are warring factions within the Syndicate. Adding these new players has layered on an extra level of intrigue to what could have been a boring plot.
- Agents Miller (Robbie Amell) and Einstein (Lauren Ambrose) have returned, in a different capacity than last season, and I can’t wait to see how that plays out.
- The prospects of meeting William as a teenager, which has been hinted at in the episode and in previews.
While this particular episode wasn’t as good as I was hoping it would be, especially with the amount of monologue and the issue I have with Scully’s “rape”, it still had all the hallmarks of the original X-Files lore: vast conspiracies, shadowy smoking figures, and big reveals. Unfortunately, it didn’t deliver in a satisfying way. What we ended up with was an overdone trope, too much truth, and some disturbing revelations.
All in all, I’d give this episode a C.
Photo Credit: Robert Falconer/FOX